Roger Arliner Young, combined post

November 30th, 2011

Roger Arliner Young was the first African American woman to receive a doctorate in zoology.  She faced many difficulties including juggling research, teaching, and caring for her ill mother.  She entered Howard University in 1916 and studied biology under Dr. Ernest Just.  She graduated with her bachelors degree in 1923.  When Young entered the University of Chicago she began publishing her research.  “On the Excretory Apparatus in Paramecium,” appeared in Science in September 1924.  By 1926, Young obtained her Master’s Degree.    She spent the summer working for Just at a Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts. Here they conducted research on the fertilization process in marine organisms and the dehydration and hydration in living cells.  Her relationship with Just continued to grow as well as her knowledge and  expertise.  She stood in as the head of the Howard zoology department while Just was working in Europe.  Young returned to the University of Chicago to get her PhD, however she failed her qualifying exams.  The stress was getting to her.  Not only was she broke but she had to continue to care for her ill mother and continue her studies, this stress led to mental instability.

Young continued to teach at Howard University until she was fired for missing class and mistreatment of lab equipment.   She took this opportunity to attend University of Pennsylvania and to begin a doctorate under L. V. Heilbrunn.  She continued on and worked at many different Universities, however her mental health continued to fail.  She was placed in the Mississippi State Mental Asylum.  Unfortunately, she died poor and alone on November 9, 1964.

First African American woman to receive a Ph.D in zoology.

She did not receive any awards.  However, she was still successful.

>She published three works in prestigious science magazines including:

“On the Excretory Apparatus in Paramecium”

“Indirect Effects of Radiation on Sea Urchin Eggs” co-authored with L. V. Heilbrunn

“The Indirect Effects of Roetgen Rays on Certain Marine Eggs”


>She taught at many universities including:

-North Carolina College for Negros in Raleigh

-Jackson State College in Mississippi

Role model behavior:

I believe Dr. Roger Arliner Young would be comfortable as a role model because she displayed determination and persistence through difficult times.  Her mentor, Ernest Everette Just had an impact on her life and I believe she would like to be able to use her love of zoology and biology to influence and encourage upcoming scientists.

Young was able to keep up with her studies, work summers at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and care for her ill mother.  She continued to work through mental instability and persevered through difficult circumstances.

Ernest Everett Just v. Roger Arliner Young

Ernest Everett Just was born was born August 14, 1883 in Charleston, South Carolina and died October 27, 1941 in Washington D.C.  Just specialized in zoology, biology, and physiology, but had special honors in botany and history, and honors in sociology.  He prepared for college at Kimball Hall Academy, in New Hampshire, where he completed the four-year course of study in only three years.  He graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1907. In 1916, Dr. Just graduated magna cum laude from University of Chicago receiving his doctorate in experimental embryology, with a thesis on the mechanics offertilization.


I chose Ernest Everett Just to compare to Roger Arliner Young because of his influence on her life, his success, and study of science.  If you recall from the previous information, Just was Young’s first science professor and mentor and they worked closely together at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  They both received up to a PhD attended Howard University.  Just’s influence and close working environments were two contributing factors my choice in male scientists.


Ernest Everett Just Roger Arliner Young
Education Bachelor’s,Master’s, PhD in experimental embryology from the University of Chicago. Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD in Zoology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Positions Head of the Department of Zoology and Department of Physiology, Member of the Marine Biological Laboratory. Professor, Member of the Marine Biological Laboratory
Awards and Recognition Recipient of the first Spingarn Medal (1915) for his research in Biology (NAACP), Postage Stamp No awards or recognition
Publications Published more than sixty published articles in scientific journals, He published two books, The Biology of the Cell Surface (1939) and Basic Methods for Experiments on Eggs of Marine Animals(1939). ”On the Excretory Apparatus in Paramecium,” ”Indirect Effects of Radiation on Sea Urchin Eggs,” and ”The Indirect Effects of Roetgen Rays on Certain Marine Eggs.
Family influcence No family influence Forced to care for her invalid mother, in many instances her grades suffered.


I believe gender ender did not influence Roger Arliner Young’s career nor Ernest Everett Just’s.  Both were successful because of their hard work and discoveries.  Just published over 60 articles and wrote two books.  His colleges also trusted his opinion and had him edit many of their works.  In the long run, Dr. Just was more successful in his findings, and published more works, however this was purely based off of individual motivation.  If anything, Young was influenced most by her family.  If she was not caring for her mother, she may have been able to commit more time to the sciences.


Society of Women Engineers:

Society of Women Engineers was established in 1950.

There are nearly 20,000. It divides the United States into ten regions.

The SWE’s primary mission is to encourage women engineers to attain high levels of education and professional achievement.

Would Roger Arliner Young Join?

No, Roger Arliner Young would not join because she was a Zoologist and this organization is specifically for engineers.

However, this does support her views regarding education.  Young was a college professor at many different universities which shows she is interesting in education students so they can be successful in the science field.

A project Young would encourage is bringing engineering to the students in K-12 classrooms.  This encourages female students to per sue careers in science and that is exactly what Young worked toward.


Works Cited

Bellis, Mary. “Ernest Just – Egg Fertilization and Ernest Just.” Inventors. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. <>.

Brown, Mitchell C. “Ernest Everett Just: Zoologist, Biologist, Physiologist, Research Scientist.” The Faces of Science: African Americans in Science. 25 Nov. 2007. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. <>.

Davis, Veronica A. “Roger Arliner Young.” Inspiring African American Women of Virginia. New

York: IUniverse, 2005. 249-51. Web.

“Ernest E. Just.” San José State University – Powering Silicon Valley. SJSU Virtual Museum. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. <>.

“Ernest Everett Just Biography” Web. 26 Oct. 2011.


Manning, Kenneth R. “Roger Arliner Young: Scientist.” Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black 

Women. 6, no. 2 (Fall 1989) 3-7.

young-groundbreaking-zoologist. Web.

Manning, Kenneth R. The Society: Race, Gender and Science. History of Science Society, 1995. Web.

Proffitt, Pamela. “Roger Arliner Young.” Notable Women Scientists. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999.

635-37. Print.

Warren, Wini. Black Women Scientists in the United States. Bloomington: Indiana University

Press, 1999. 287-295. Print.

“Aspire, SWE K-12.” The Society of Women Engineers. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.


“Society of Women Engineers.” The Society of Women Engineers. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.


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